Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Shaken by being... unshaken.

My partner adamantly believes that everything happens for a reason.

Although no injury or damage is being reported and the epicenter was nearly 50 miles from my apartment, by missing my flight this morning I missed the 5.4 earthquake that hit Los Angeles at 11:42 a.m. local time.

Holy shit.

I missed my f*ing flight back to LA!

I am so exhausted from stress right now...

I stood in the CHECK IN line, not even the usually problematic security line, for nearly an hour and missed my flight "due to the incompetence of Spirit airlines employees," as my significant other has now told four different customer service employees via phone. "I've been in customer service for fifteen years and if I treated people the way she was treated I wouldn't have a job!" Despite his very valiant efforts, we've been given the telephone runaround, from India to Detroit and back, and it seems to be a lost cause. Another woman my age (who I noticed and remember by the bad bridesmaid dress she was carrying around) waited for an hour and a half in two different check-in lines and also missed the same flight.

So here I sit in my Toledo living room feeling a million emotions, all of which are heightened by tiredness.

I feel pretty stupid because my beau and I have to shoulder much of the responsibility for both believing the standard time frames were to get to the airport an hour before domestic flights and two hours before international flights. After all, I was at my gate in only twenty minutes at LAX when I flew home last week. When the unhelpful Spirit Airline employee snapped that I should have been there two to three hours early, I ironically quipped, "THREE HOURS for a domestic flight?! There's no way your website says that!" Actually... it does. Damn it.

I am obviously tired and frustrated. I've been awake since 4 a.m. and we just lost half of what we originally spent and will now have to spend more to get me back to LA. I wish I could have found a better way to handle the situation; I've taken Dale Carnegie courses! But no amount of niceness, persuasion or bitchiness helped. Both the attendant and her supervisor were utterly unhelpful and and borderline rude; they barely spoke loud enough, they did not make eye contact and had horrible grammar. "She ain't gonna make it."

Part of the problem is that all passengers had to check in on a touch screen monitor; like "you scan" at the grocery, one employee watches two or three monitors. I argue that human-to-human service is faster because most passengers took a while acclimating themselves with the machine. The other woman who missed the flight had already checked in online, but still had to wait with everyone else to print her boarding pass and check luggage.

I had to get back for my free Universal Studios acting class tonight and I am scheduled to work tomorrow... But, "what's done is done," as my dad would say, so I'm not really dwelling on what I'm missing; I'm too occupied dwelling on bigger issues.

I'm happy I get to stay longer. That's to be expected and there's nothing wrong with it, I worry though, that the longer I stay the harder and harder it will become to go back to LA. I frequently told people this week that everything about LA is indescribably difficult and that I've have ups and downs; they'd get that look on their faces and I'd quickly continue, saying it's not like I'm giving up and moving back. I'm there to stay, it's just hard. To make going back to the land of difficulty easier, I had hoped our house would just be a house, that I'd be terribly bored and wonder how I ever tolerated living in Ohio... Our house, however, is still a beautiful home full of memories, I was not bored and although it's more difficult to the stomach tacky people, hickish homesteads and small minded thinking, the places and people I prefer are still familiar and relaxing.

I am so stuck in my head right now, thinking, I should be itching to get back to LA, to my acting classes and auditions, but right now I am so tired and frustrated I just don't care. I can hear my acting teacher annoyingly saying, "your career is a ship and you are the captain, I am here to help guide you as much as you allow me to... did you bring my check?" After we drove an hour back home this morning we checked options online; we could have immediately rushed back to DTW to *hopefully* catch a flight landing in LA at 3 p.m., but there was no way I was being peeled off the couch or dragged back into that fucking airport.

Other than one lousy shift, I don't have anything on my schedule this week; I'm sure if I go back, nothing will come my way, but if I stay here a few more days all sorts of opportunities will pass me by. I hate this! I hate how geographically far away my career is. I hate how last-minute and inconsiderate the entertainment industry is to the rest of your life. Most of all, I hate my attitude right now! As happy as I am to be here a little longer, I don't want to go through the tears and torment of saying goodbye again... Everything this morning has highlighted how badly I want a magic solution to a situation that doesn't have one!

I need to get some sleep...

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Flying Feline?

As I've mentioned before, in addition to missing my boyfriend, family, friends, home in Ohio and the comfort and convenience of familiarity, I long for the unconditional love of my pets.

I worried my cat would be mad and snub me on this visit, since cats can be temperamental, but thankfully it's been quite the opposite, he's been on my lap every time I sit down and I wake with him curled at my feet most mornings. Of course, this has me once again thinking about taking him back to California. I probably won't because that would leave the ten year old Great Dane with no companionship, along with other factors I listed before, yet, here I sit at my kitchen counter at 3 a.m., "trapped" by the sleeping cat on my lap, looking up airplane regulations and cat travel tips.
I found this super cool video; check it out:

I was displeased to read that Spirit charges $85 for a pet-as-a-carry-on, that's a bit more than I expected. I was also surprised to find that vets no longer recommend using a sedative or tranquilizer on a pet during air travel because both the drugs and altitude affect blood pressure and could have deadly results. My cat tolerates car trips, usually hunkering on the drivers lap; he does not like being kept in his carrier and I fear he'd "mow" annoyingly for at least the first hour of the four and a half hour flight... (He does not meow, he "mows," as in, rhymes with cow.)

He really does seem to know who's controlling the vehicle and favor them, so perhaps if I asked nicely, the pilot would let him be a cockpit leg warmer!? Yeah right!

I don't know why I'm doing this to myself again... It's mean to the dog, the travel would be stressful on the cat, I would always be worried that he'd slip out the door under my roommates feet, I'd worry he'd choose to mark his new home, it would be very expensive with the airline fee, pet deposit, new liter box, etc... I can't speak from experience, but it seems like mothers and children - Despite the awful labor, they say when the new baby is laid in your arms it's all worth it... My cat is so damn cute/handsome, just to look at! Then he cuddles up to me with his soft fur, warmth and roaring purr and I just can't help but feel like he belongs with me, despite the logic and obstacles against it. I even feel like he wants to be with me!

Oh for the love! I am not the kind of person who speaks for animals! It must be the White Zin talking. I was at a beautiful wedding tonight and am very happy for my newlywed friends and their open bar. It really was one of the best weddings I've ever been to; more about that later, the cat has left my lap, thus freeing me to go spend valuable, fleeting moments wrapped in my beau's arms...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Honey, I’m Home!

Everyone likes surprises, right? Well, I decided it would be fun to tell as few people as possible that I was coming home for a visit! Not to metion the fact that I've been warned visits home are stressful because you're pulled in so many different directions; I figured I'd have more control if no one knew I was coming. Of course my boyfriend, who purchased my plane ticket knew, as well as the soon-to-be-wed friends whose wedding I’ll be attending. My parents, on the other hand, have been hearing white lies from me for the past two weeks… “Putting a new alternator in my car was the price of a plane ticket!” That’s true! “It’s hard to plan because my work schedule only gives me two days notice!” That’s true too! “No, I just can’t make it to so-and-so’s wedding… we haven’t kept in touch anyway.” Okay, that one’s a complete lie!

Honestly, it was difficult to pick days and buy the ticket; rather, it was stressful. Everything in LA happens at the last minute! My work schedule is issued on Friday and begins that Sunday! Audition notices are very last minutes; last week I was only given a few hours to get to one. You just have to select a date and assume you’re going to miss out on something. It’s Murphy’s Law.

We booked the flight for Monday July 21st to Tuesday July 29th. Of course, I ended up having NOTHING to do the 18th, 19th and 20th, but had to decline a direct request from a casting director to audition for a non-union film because it rehearsed and shot the 24th and 25th.

I sulked in my apartment all day Friday the 18th, frustrated that we hadn’t booked the flight for that day, and knowing I couldn’t extend the visit because I have things to get back for the 29th and 30th… In the hours of insomnia Saturday morning I decided just to check into changing the flight. My boyfriend had tried to extend his last visit, but the change fee was $600! In comparison, the $80 change fee Spirit airlines wanted seemed reasonable, then there was an additional $60 price difference. Can I afford to spend $140 on a whim? No. But did I have $140? Yes. (I don’t use a credit card, so I literally have money, or I don’t.)

I figure, $140 is a really fancy diner, or fantastic gift , and my boyfriend certainly deserves that! I thought, the ability to surprise him too would be priceless! When we originally bought the ticket I said I couldn’t wait for the day I had enough money to buy my own plane ticket and fly home without him knowing…

My engaged friend had already offered a ride home from the Detroit Metro, so taking him up on his previous offer was easy. The hard part became getting from my apartment to LAX. You are NEVER going to believe this story! Coming soon…

Actually I wrote this entry and the to-the-airport story while waiting for my departure and in the air, but I’m rationing my pre-written posts this week. ;)

Blogging from the iPhone store!

I'm in the process of getting an iPhone and blogging from the floor model.

Lots has been going on... I JUST got a callback for the PBS show with 24 hour notice, but I can't make it! :(
Hopefully they'll work with me and reschedule.

I'll explain why I can't make it soon...

Friday, July 18, 2008

A year ago today...

Wow, I just really freaked myself out...

I've been thinking lately that it's probably been about a year since I totaled my Honda and broke my collar bone, forcing me to postpone my move to LA. For whatever reason, a moment ago I decided to actually check; I flipped my phone open to it's calendar expecting to have to scroll through July of '07, but instead, on this very date one year ago was listed the event I was driving to when the accident happened.

I had emailed my boyfriend sort of whining that if I don't get called into work this morning that I don't have anything else I have to do on my calendar... but realizing the date, I will gladly stay safely sequestered in my apartment building!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A forced update

Does your internet use go through phases like mine? Sometimes I can’t account for the time I loose online and I gladly share all the minutia of my daily life; other times, just checking my email and usual internet haunts is like a chore.

Lately I just haven’t felt like writing, and like anything, the farther behind you get, the more daunting the task of catching up becomes. So here’s just a quick update until I get my groove back (which I have no doubt at all, will happen very soon…)

Last Thursday I was scheduled to audition for a comedic webisode series. Webisodes are really popular right now; you never know when they’re going to hit big, but if they pay, it’s nominal. Thank goodness I had a link to their previous work before I wasted my time auditioning. With the recent Jamie Pressley/ Poison Ivy 3 example in mind, I know you have to start somewhere, but this isn’t it. Check it out here. I can see why some might think these scenes are funny, but the previous female roles have been degrading. It's very one-sided, but what do you expect considering their weekly podcast is called the "Dude Zone?" I'm not judging what they do, but it's just not for me... Plus I'm sure they'd say my breasts were too small! I've previously declined two or three auditions, via email, after reading the script or learning more about the project. It always makes me crazy and I fear I'm turning down a great opportunity, but I ultimately have to go with my gut. In this case, all I had was a phone contact, which is kind of a problem for me...

No matter what you think of the project, it’s really important not to be a no-show. When I first moved here, an old college friend who’s lived here about 4 years and recently started his own production company advised me to fake my representation until I got an actual agent and manager. He said to either do it myself or have my boyfriend do it. He says many actors do that in order to get more respect and better deals. I fear it would have the opposite effect if casting were to realize your agent or manager were not legitimate, and thus haven’t had the balls or extra cell number to do it. In this case though, my combined phonephobia and inability to say no led to the founding of Glass City Management – that’s right, my boyfriend called them to say I had become unavailable.

The ironic part is that literally two minutes after my boyfriend made that call for me, my agent called me with an audition – the agent I don’t like, who had only sent me on one awful audition in three months. I reluctantly returned their call and skeptically listened to the details… “You speak Spanish, right?” “NO.”

An hour later I found myself in a crowded casting office with a Little Caesar’s cap on my head saying, “Cinco dólares por favor!” They had been auditioning all afternoon and I was #120, but that included the leads of the commercial, “stressed out mom” and “giggling kids,” in addition to the role I was auditioning for, “pizza girl.”

The waiting area was congested, especially since it was shared with another casting call that was nothing but kids and the check-in lady was understandably bitchy. I amused myself by observing a stage mom prep her ten year old son. He insisted he didn’t know Spanish. She insisted he could read for both Spanish and English (which I did as well). She muttered, “This isn’t what I expected… this is a cattle call!” He complained, “I should have brought my Game Boy.”

After thirty-five minutes of waiting, first to check in and then to go into the actual audition room, I spent a few minutes saying “Cinco dólares por favor!” twice and “That’ll be five dollars please” four times to a camera and two gentlemen. And that was that. I returned the Little Caesar’s cap to the bitchy lady and got the hell out of there, away from all the children and to the Starbucks down the block as fast as possible. I’m told, though, that in comparison to theatrical auditions in NYC, forty minutes is amazingly efficient.

I did my thing and left with no expectations, thus I was surprised to find out yesterday that I have a callback for the role this morning!

What the hell? This was supposed to be brief! Brevity is just not my writing style, which is why I haven’t felt like writing lately because I haven’t had the time or energy for it to turn into this!

Anyway… to QUICKLY conclude…

I never heard back from PBS, which sucks, but I’ve been plugging along and a few other positive things have come up.

Friday I had an audition for a short film. I’m sure I won’t get the part, but it was a cool experience.

Saturday evening I went out to dinner in Beverly Hills for character research and development with my acting class scene partner. The Beverly Hills experience was wonderful, but nothing like I expected. The meal was affordable and after the fancy stores close and tourist leave it’s a stunning and safe place for a pleasant evening stroll.

Monday I had my usual acting class, which is really a cold read workshop with different casting directors each week. The point is to get your picture and resume in their hands and show them what you’re all about. Lately it hasn’t seemed like I’m on the same page with the teacher of the class and having seen close to a dozen casting directors, nothing had happened yet… BUT, yesterday I got an email from Monday night’s guest requesting that I find her latest independent film project on Actors Access and submit for an audition! FINALLY!

Tuesday I auditioned to be a contestant on GSN’s Bingo America! Funny, I know! I decided it won’t hurt my acting career and could help my bank account, so why the hell not?! More about that later…

Also Tuesday I attended the first free acting class offered by Universal to its Tour Guides. I’m so excited because this is really an “acting class,” as opposed to a casting director workshop, meaning it teaches and works to develop a specific acting technique. Not all the guides are keen on the specific technique being taught, that of Stella Adler which is strongly influenced by Stanislavski’s “Method,” but I think there’s always something to be gained even if you don’t agree with the entire concept.

And with that not-so-brief update, I need to try to get some beauty sleep so later this morning I can be the best damn pizza girl ever to grace a cheesy (no pun intended) Little Caesar's commercial!

(Stop laughing, it’s a paying gig!)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

"Free Money" for being a naive hottie!

Remember that “Most Talented Hottie” audition for Microsoft that I didn’t go through with?

After waiting an hour, I gladly left the audition with the valid excuse that I had to get to a performance of a musical I was in… or was it dress rehearsal? Either way, it was a horrible audition my horrible agent had sent me on; they didn’t want real talents, but rather degrading, stupid human tricks.

Having already filled out their paperwork and gotten my $20 for gas, I told them I’d return in the morning. Between the fact that traffic probably wouldn’t have allowed me to make it to that and work training the next morning, in addition to the realization I did NOT want to be a part of it, I did not go back the next day.

You may recall, the incentive was that you got $200 just for auditioning, but you waived all rights to the footage, which could then be used online for what sounds like it will be a really stupid and humiliating contest. I was naive to tell my agent I'd go to something like this, naive to sit there for an hour and naive about traffic the next morning; but it all worked out...

Even though I didn’t audition, I recently got a $200 check in the mail!!! I guess they didn’t cross reference their paperwork with their video footage. I don’t feel bad because that covers the cost of travel time and expense, wait time and emotional anguish! Not to mention that swindling could most definitely be considered a talent of a hottie!!! ;)

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Fighting sleep like a baby...

It’s just after 7 a.m. in LA and I haven’t slept yet. I finally got under the covers to try to sleep about a half hour ago, but it isn’t working. Am I tired? Yes, but I just can’t shut off my mind.

I’ve always joked about being an insomniac, but I’m pretty sure this is real. I’d always stay up until 1 or 2, but since moving here that turned into 3 or 4 and over the past few days it’s been 5 or 6. I know I should “pull an all-nighter” to tire myself out so I can go to bed at a normal time the next night, but the trouble is getting through the hours of 6 to 9ish… That’s when nothing’s going on. You can’t run errands yet, but you’ve also exhausted your busy work around the house and online. Right now I don’t feel a second wind coming, but I also can’t sleep.

Has this had a negative effect on my overall success and productivity? Yes, of course. That in turn makes me feel like a huge loser which only contributes to the emotional disparity that is more than likely causing the insomnia. Oh my gawd - make it stop!

Here’s what I wrote to my boyfriend the other day, “I’m fighting sleep for no good reason, just like an infant! I do not want to be on a nocturnal schedule; I hate how it makes me feel and how little I accomplish because of it. I know I’ve always been this way to a degree, but it’s so much worse because I have no reason to go to bed – I don’t have you to cuddle up to or you to wake up beside. In addition to that, it’s almost like staying awake keeps the next day from coming, even though I know sleep will help me face whatever challenges I have the next day, I just don’t want them to come because I don’t want to face them alone…”

You may be wondering, “If you’re awake in the middle of the night, why haven’t you blogged here?” Well, as you may have gathered from the passage above, I can’t seem to get out of a rut I found myself in a couple weeks ago. When your emotions are on overload, it’s hard to make sense of any of them or anything and thus, I haven’t felt much like writing. I’ve still done everything I have to do, for the most part; I worked this week, had an acting class and went on auditions for a short film and a Little Caesars commercial.

I've been here before. I know it'll work itself out when I have a few days in a row with morning things I have to get up for... that just hasn't happened yet. Once again, my dream schedule is a nightmare. Dream, nightmare... if only I could go to sleep and have either one!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

How Californians See America

This was forwarded to me by a friend... and I have to say, this is pretty much how I saw it even before moving to LA!

Monday, July 7, 2008

The bad breaks before the "big break"

Believe it or not, LA television is horrible! I don't have cable and the network affiliates out here choose to rerun the worst sitcoms and they play entertainment news shows all the time.

Of course, late night TV everywhere is bad; it's 3 a.m. and I'm watching the movie Poison Ivy 3 (1997).

It's about a destructive seductress, Violet, who returns to a wealthy daughter and father, for whom her mother used to be a maid. She literally works as a dominatrix and sleeps with her childhood friends boyfriend and father, while spinning a web of lies and deceit. Spoiler alert: three of four lead characters die. There's never full frontal nudity (at least not in this TV edit!), but a lot of very suggestive scenes, it's your typical bad movie that you just can't turn off!

As I watch it, I can't help but wonder, "whatever happened to her career!?" One of the hardest things about this industry is knowing what projects to do... What will be a huge success? What will ruin you? It seems to me, the slutty female lead probably went from this movie, to a phone sex commercial...

The boyfriend, on the other hand, is one of those hunks with an Abercrombie model face and perfect, silky hair. He intrigued me, surely with a look like that, he's gone on to do more, so I "imdb-ed him." That stands for Internet Movie Data Base and I don't know about the rest of the world, but among movie buffs and industry folks, that term is as common as "I googled it."

Anyway, I was right, he's Greg Vaughan, who plays "Lucky Spencer" on General Hospital, among other TV and film credits.

As for that crazy, slutty lead character, well, I retract my previous statements because she's the Emmy Award winning "Joy Turner" on My Name Is Earl... Jamie Pressly!

Thursday, July 3, 2008


By that I mean PJs, as in pajamas, as in what I wore to an audition for PBS today!

Let me explain!...

This afternoon I had an audition to be the side-kick type character for a half hour pilot for a PBS kids show. (Just in case you aren't familiar, in TV talk, a "pilot" is the first episode created, which TV network executives may or may not "pick up" or order more of to air as a series. It's sometimes painful to watch the pilot episodes of your favorite shows because they're understandably rough around the edges and the characters aren't yet fully developed.)

Anyway, PBS kids show is not exactly the career I had in mind, but I figure if LeVar Burton can go from the PBS host of Reading Rainbow to Geordi La Forge on Star Trek: Next Generation, well, then who the hell knows!

Not to mention, you have to take what fits you. Here was the breakdown: "A young woman (age range 18 - 30). She is a “handy-woman” around the house, always fixing things, and helping our main character. She is strong and confident, but feminine, cute, and accessible to kids. She sings songs (singing ability a must) tells stories and leads dances. Must be okay with being silly. She is the strong leading personality that drives this show." Yep, that's me alright!

Albeit happy for me, my mom pointed out, "You don't dance." I replied, "It's not really dancing, it's a PBS kid show, they just sorta hop around, right?"

For todays audition we were asked to showcase our singing and dancing abilities and dress casual. Damn you, LA, and your casual attitudes and wardrobes! What does that mean? It's an audition, an interview; you should dress to impress or to suggest your character! Okay, fine, I told myself that means my character is casual, which makes sense given the breakdown. But I still couldn't bring myself to wear jeans, nor should I wear dress or my typical high heels. I realized a bigger problem was that PBS hosts and characters are all A-sexual, and all my shirts are either spaghetti straps or v-necks; my clothes aren't necessarily sexy, but they show too much skin for PBS.

I only have two T-shirts that I wear in public, so the only thing I could come up with today was to wear my favorite one with a pair of capris and cute sandals - one of my favorite, no effort outfits. The tee is pink, fitted, super soft, extra long and it says "I *heart* my dog" across the front of it. It's literally a red heart made of beads. Truth be told, it's a Victoria's Secret pajama top, but I don't care I wear it out all the time and people always comment and think it's cute. I don't know what breed its supposed to be, but the silhouette of the VS dog and this, and much of their sleepwear resembles a Great Dane, which I have... in Ohio. :(

The audition was in an acting studio space behind the Hollywood Playhouse Theatre Complex. There are lots of theatre spaces in Hollywood, so wasn't surprised to find this was a loudly painted building on an otherwise residential street, off of Sunset, a couple blocks from the tourist mayhem. A narrow path led behind the theatre and opened up to a tranquil courtyard; it was such a quiet, hidden jewel, I would have hung out there for hours, but as soon as I signed in, they were ready for me. I counted the sign in sheet, and was the sixteenth woman. Yikes.

I was told to bring a CD or sing a capella. Instead I took my four inch, highly portable MP3 speakers and iPod. While I set up, one of two men with Middle Eastern or perhaps European accents explained that it's a new show teaching kids to recycle. I believe the target age range is 4 to 6 and I think it's called "Eco," but between the accent and trying to pleasantly take everything in, I honestly don't remember.

They played an electronic accompaniment and sang through the three-line theme song with me twice, then I did it twice on my own for the camera. It was easy - a nauseatingly catchy tune that will have babysitters and parents ears bleeding... I improv-ed the start of the show, "Hi kids!!! Today we're going to have fun learning to reuse and recycle with a good friend, ECO!"

Then I did my prepared performance, a two minute version of "Much More" from the off-Broadway hit, The Fantastics. It's a perfect story telling song that shows off my voice; in it a young girl day dreams of all the exciting things she wants to do, instead of chores, "I'd like to swim in a clear blue stream where the water is icy cold, then go to town in a golden gown and have my fortune told..." It's not the Linda Eder song some of you might be thinking of. I added some appropriate twirls and a grape-vine or two, as that's the extent of my sober dancing.

I did the entire song. Then, they asked me to take my hair out of its low ponytail, so the camera could get that look, since it's down, straight and flowing in my headshot. I sang the entire song, again, with my hair falling in my face! The line "To wear my hair unfastened so it billows to the floor.." didn't make much sense anymore, but how amazing that I did like five minutes of singing for the camera!

They seemed to really like me, but who knows! Now I move on to the next thing... If they call me next week for a callback, great! If not, I know I did my best... and I'll blame it on the PJs.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

My job is becoming work. :(

My position as a Tour Guide at Universal Studios is undeniable cool, but it's really stressing me out!

To follow up on my previous post, I consulted with my acting teacher (who, again, is also a casting director) about whether to go to work today or to a non-union no-pay short film audition. He said if I need the money, to go to work, especially considering the films casting director will be a guest in our class later this summer. Of course, the goal with all the casting directors we do cold reads for in class is that they'll call us into their offices to audition for paid work. So I declined the audition and will be tour guiding all afternoon.

I was so busy throughout my Tour Guide training that I never actually wrote about it or the job itself. Some of you may have taken the 'world famous Universal Studios Hollywood Tour' but for those of you (like me) who are clueless, here's the quick and dirty...

175 guests are loaded onto a four car tram and driven through the front and back lots of the actual, working studio. A guide, like me :), speaks to the guests via airplane-like TV monitors and plays video clips throughout the tour.

The front lot is kind of boring, consisting of sound stages and production bungalows. They're not much to look at, but there's the possibility of seeing a star, as the TV shows CSI and LIFE currently use several of our sound stages, movies are always coming and going and production bungalows are where writers, directors and producers meet to develop the next big hit!

The back lot consists of our outdoor, free standing sets. It's amazing how many different things have been filmed in the exact same places; current TV shows, films, commercials and photo shoots use the the same sets where legendary Hollywood icons got their start, and the tram rolls right through it.

Each area has a name - Denver Street are the oldest sets, used for the first silent Westerns; Sandra Bullock just used it for parts of her new film, All About Steve. Another section of Western sets are called Six Points Texas, which is connected to Old Mexico, where the recent Indiana Jones film shot scenes. What we call the Square of Warriors has grand facades used for Rome in Spartacus and Genovia in The Princess Diaries 2: A Royal Engagement, among other things. Little Europe is my favorite because it's just cool looking and has a laundry list of diverse projects that have shot there; you can currently see it on the big screen in Adam Sandler's You Don't Mess with the Zohan. Other examples are all three Pirates of the Caribbean films, All Quiet on the Western Front, The Good German, Cinderella, The Pink Panther, Michael Jackson's Moonwalker video, and TV shows including Heroes, Alias, Beverly Hills 90210... Those are just a few... Little Europe includes the Court of Miracles where monster movies of the 1930s and 40s came to life, including Frankenstien, Dracula and The Hunchback of Norte Dame. The recently charred metropolitan sets also have a unbelievably long filmography, which I am not taking the time to memorize until they're rebuilt! The tram doesn't go down Elm Street, but it includes a house currently seen in Will Smith's Hancock, as well as the To Kill a Mocking Bird house. What is currently Wisteria Lane with all the Desperate Housewives homes used to be called Colonial street and the same homes belonged to The Munsters, Ben Matlock, Freddie Kruger, the Hardy Boys and were seen in The Burbs, Animal House, Providence and Nelly's Delimma video, to name a few... The tram also goes by parts of Whoville from Ron Howard and Jim Carey's Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas, the Bates Motel and Psycho House from Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho and the realistic crash site from Stephen Spielberg and Tom Cruise's War of the Worlds (which features an actual, wrecked 747 jet).

That may sound like a lot, but to make the tour more entertaining it includes "animations." They're not like cartoons, but rather mechanical features. I can't stand when guests incorrectly call them "rides" because they're certainly not... it's kind of hard to explain... The most famous is probably the Jaws animation, in which the tram stops by an area we call Amity Island, although we later admit it was Cabot Cove from the filming of Murder She Wrote. Anyway, there's a small pond and a mechanical shark pops up. There's more to it than that, but I don't want to spoil it with too many details in case you ever plan to take the tour. We have an animation called "Earthquake," which of course, simulates an earthquake. The King Kong animation was pretty cool, but it's where the fire started and something new will be rebuilt in its place. They haven't announced what it will be yet, but good ole banana breath is not coming back. (A fake banana smell was actually pumped in as the giant mechanical ape roared and shook the tram!) There are a few other animations, but again, I feel bad giving too much away.

I know, I know, it's amazing that I get paid to tell people about all of that! It's a really fun job, but now let me tell you where the stress comes in... The tour usually runs about 45 minutes, but the actual route is always changing. Various areas might be shut down because something's filming there, or an animation might be closed for repairs. Of course there's a map in the dispatch office that shows you what the route is each day; you simply have to know multiple transitions to get you from area to area, depending on the various routes. The greater anxiety comes from never knowing when you're going to "stall." The animations take two or three minutes and you may have to sit and wait for the tram ahead of you to finish, or two trams ahead of you, or THREE! A tram ahead of you may have broken down. Your tram might break down and you have to keep the people entertained while it's either fixed or your guest are moved to another tram. The last time I worked I heard a horror story about a tram having to wait FIFTEEN minutes while the driver of a production truck was located to move it out of the way!

No matter where you are or why you're stopped, you have to just keep on talking and make your guest think that you are supposed to be saying whatever it is that you're saying. Thank goodness there are clips you can play to buy you time, but you have to be familiar with the clip list and know which to play where. The key is your ability to logically transition from topic to topic and clip to clip. I've not yet had to deal with a tremendously long stall, but I have come dangerously close to running out of information, then thankfully we started moving again!

I know it's just a matter of time before a stall horror story happens to me! I had to prove that I could think on my feet as part of the audition process, but when you're out there on the route, sometimes you just draw a blank. Not to mention the fact that I'm not actually a movie buff; I grew up without cable or a VCR in a family that didn't go to the movies! While I think the information is awesome, it does not come organically to me. During our training, they purposely stalled us a bit, but never more than a couple minutes. I know I should be prepared for stalls in every given area of the lot, but I don't feel like I am. As the summer season gets busier and busier, I am more and more nervous about going to work! It's almost like I want an incident to happen to me, so I can have it under my belt.

As a performer I know the only reason why I ever get nervous - it's always due to a lack of preparation. I've spent more time and energy worrying about this than actually studying my material. Like right now, why the hell am I blogging? I have a shift in nine hours, I should be sleeping or reading my three-inch-thick training manual!

So that's exactly what I'm going to do...